Dr. Mansouran: Turkish state uses chemical weapons

Dr. Abbas Mansouran who lives in Switzerland said that the Turkish state is using chemical weapons and added that independent judges, lawyers and families should take action.

Global reactions against war crimes committed by the Turkish state with chemical weapons are continuing. Intellectuals, politicians, writers and academics from all over Europe and the world are reacting to the Turkish chemical attacks on guerrilla-controlled areas.

Dr. Abbas Mansouran who lives in Switzerland underlined that the Turkish state uses Tabun, Chlorine and Mustard gases intensively. Dr. Mansouran emphasized that the families and lawyers of those killed by chemical weapons may put pressure on the OPCW to investigate chemicals on the spot, through lawsuits and the UN.


A video was released revealing that the Turkish state used chemical and banned weapons against the guerrillas in Zap, Metîna and Avaşîn regions. The video released by the PKK shows that two guerrillas were subjected to chemical weapons. Have you watched this video? What is your initial assessment? Which chemical could have been used?

First, I would like to praise this historical and brave resistance of the Kurdish people and freedom fighters in every part of Kurdistan. I reviewed the videos, photos and documents. It is obvious that the Turkish authorities and the Turkish army are using banned chemical weapons and a war crime against humanity is being committed. Turkey is not doing this for the first time, they have long been committing war crimes. Turkey has been continuing to commit war crimes with these banned chemicals since 1992 and 1995 and in Serêkaniyê since 2019 and in the mountains of Kurdistan since 2019.


What is your initial assessment of these images? What chemical could have been used?

Based on my experience, it is very likely that Turkey used sarin bombs, which was previously used by Syria. Perhaps Tabun gas was also used. It is very likely that chlorofine, i.e., chlorine gas sulphur SM, or as I said, sarin gas GB, or Mustard gas AD were used. These weapons and gases are prohibited. They cause the muscular system to collapse and directly affect the nervous system. These are very dangerous gases. Small-scale research is enough to prove that they are used, there is no need for high technologies. Tests can be done by investigating those who have been exposed to these gases, through soil samples, or the remnants of bombs. We know that Turkey produces these bombs and even sells them.


During the war that lasted for 6 months, the PKK released images, photographs, etc., and called on the authorities to take action in repeated statements. But international institutions remain silent. How do you evaluate this situation?

Unfortunately, organizations and the UN Council and other institutions do not actually work for the people. They work for states, the United Nations works for states. For example, Turkey is a NATO member, NATO member countries are the most important countries in the UN. These countries support each other. That’s why they are silent. When I was in Serêkaniyê in 2019, I asked them to send a delegation to the UN and conduct an investigation into the use of chemicals. Even at that time, they did not agree to test people in Hewler who were exposed to these chemical weapons. The states have never helped us to deal with it. They support Turkey's crimes and, in fact, they are partners in these crimes.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has recently said in a statement that “we cannot take action without the appeal of a state”. Which state should make an appeal concerning the recent attacks which were carried out in partnership between the AKP-MHP government and the KDP? What path should be followed?

This is a very tragic situation. This is tantamount to asking criminals to investigate their own crimes. It is also a funny situation; it is funny to invite the perpetrators of this crime to court and have them witness their crimes. It is also very sad. The OPCW is not a member of the UN. But it is a parallel institution and supposed to investigate war crimes in UN countries as well. The OPCW is actually the right place for these tests to be done, but they do not, they do not fulfil their duties. OPCW's silence encourages those who commit these crimes to continue to do so.


If a war crime is committed and proven with evidence, what needs to be done for the relevant international institutions to act? What would you like to say about them?

I'm not optimistic, especially not about the UN, but I'm optimistic about people's opinions. Currently, millions of people want freedom. I think an international tribunal should be established, like the one established during the Vietnam War. It was done in the past. Independent judges and lawyers had to make appeals to Den Haag or The Hague. An international tribunal should be established. International independent lawyers and judges and prosecutors need to make this call. In this way, international institutions can also be mobilized. This is a war crime and a crime against humanity as well. If the families of people killed by chemical weapons open a case against Turkey in a court, this may be more effective, the OPCW will have to conduct an investigation after a possible case. This file will have to prove whether people were killed by chemicals. Instead of asking it from the UN or other institutions, the families should immediately open a file and appeal to international courts through tribunals.

If families appeal to the OPCW or put pressure on relevant institutions, can these chemical attacks be investigated?

Yes, we must push for it. Not only the OPCW but also the UN should be urged, many lawyers and human rights defenders around the world would want to work on this issue. This will pave the way for people to formally put pressure on the OPCW and related institutions to carry out these investigations.


The KDP, which offered all kinds of intelligence and logistics support to Turkey in the attacks against Zap and Avaşîn, also confiscated the gas masks that were delivered to guerrillas against chemical weapons and bombs. They also released a video of their confiscation. How do you evaluate this situation?

Hopefully, the KDP will change its approach. History will write what they did, how the KDP cooperation affected the whole Kurdistan. They should be ashamed, they are defaming themselves by helping Turkey and causing people to be killed. In the future, of course, the families of the people who died in these attacks will bring the KDP to account. I hope that the KDP will immediately change this approach and stop helping Turkey to kill people because they are complicit in this crime and cause the people of Kurdistan to die.


You had previously conducted an on-site investigation into the chemical attacks by the Turkish state in Rojava and reported the use of white phosphorus… What were your findings in the report at that time?

After Turkey's attacks, I went there to help the injured in Serêkaniyê and Qamîşlo. In a Hesekê hospital, I saw more than 100 people who were killed as a result of chemical attacks. The samples I sent to Switzerland and the examinations made in the laboratories here proved that white phosphorus bombs were used. I prepared an 18-page report with the support of other doctors, including photos, videos and samples from the bodies of those who lost their lives. All these files were submitted to the UN. Unfortunately, the corona pandemic erupted and the court was delayed. Currently, the international human rights court recommends that these files be reviewed again and these cases are still going on.

We know that your report has been submitted to the OPCW. Have you received any results?

Thanks for saying this. I had requested a meeting with the OPCW on this matter and wanted to visit their office. They had accepted it from the very beginning. But when I was trying to get there via Paris, they informed me that we didn't need to meet face to face. They said they could examine the samples with a group of physicists and chemists and they didn't talk to me afterwards. I later submitted the documents and the evidence from the laboratory to them. It is obvious that white phosphorus was used, but the OPCW only replied that it was forbidden to use it, yet they did not help us at that time either.

Are you going to appeal to any institution or are you going to carry out an examination in the region?

Yes, I will continue my research. Any human being should bear responsibility over the issue. In fact, a delegation of doctors and physicists should be sent to the region. Solidarity with the victims should be shown internationally and the UN and other institutions should introduce serious files against these crimes by Turkey. Yes, I would like to go to the region and do research and share it with the public in a transparent way.